Biting Flies, Stomping and Equine Other Behavioral Problems: Put a Sox on It and Kick the Habit

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Under 'Behavioral Problems of Horses' in the Merck Veterinary Manual, frustration is a chief cause of destructive pawing or stomping, with advised treatment directed toward eliminating the underlying cause.

In warm weather, the relentless frustration, pain and aggravation driven by flies and biting insects can lead to stomping and similar behavioral issues. To eliminate the cause, horses need a safe, easy and long-lasting barrier to protect their legs like Summer Whinnys Silver by Sox For Horses, Inc.

Leg protection, started early in the season before biting flies become an issue, can deter obsessive stomping, which splits and cracks hooves and can drive shoe nails up through the hoof wall, wasting expensive shoeing work,” says president and founder of Sox For Horses, Inc., Raymond Petterson of Tallahassee, Florida.

“The key is catching the behavior before it begins, early in the spring, when you're still thinking about the flies coming, not complaining that they're here. As a horse owner, I know from experience that my horses can get in the habit of stomping if their legs aren't protected before the flies arrive. Once the behavior is established they'll stomp even without flies on their legs and it can take a week for them to realize they no longer need to stomp.”

Last summer, Florida farrier Rob Nichols confirmed the same observation. “Rob had likewise observed that, once horses start, stomping becomes a habit. He would put fly spray on their legs before beginning his work and, even in the absence of flies, they continued to stomp.”

Aside from Equine Pastern Dermatitis (EPD) issues, Petterson said destruction of hoof wall integrity and/or loosening shoes from constant stomping are two big reasons why owners contact Sox For Horses, Inc. all spring and summer.

“We know when legs are protected, stomping stops. It may take a few days to a week, depending on the strength of the horse's learned behavior, but they do eventually learn that their legs are no longer being bitten.”

Summer Whinnys Silver bring long term value (a set of four is $57.00) by saving money on trims and shoe sets. The longer horses wear Summer Whinnys Silver, the more accustomed they become to living bite-free, which reduces frustration and the behavioral need to stomp.

Petterson maintained, “Without that concussive abuse, our animals' hooves stay well-shaped and free of cracks or splits all summer. Early fly protection averts destructive habitual stomping and saves on money spent for farrier services. Our farrier says our horses have the nicest hooves of all his clients.”

Stomping, cites the American Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPCA), can also suggest injury or a medical condition: “Horses can engage in repetitive behavior or produce unusual movements when in pain or as the result of neurological disorders. If horse has no history of stereotypic performance and begins to do things such as head-bobbing, self-biting, foot-stomping or other behaviors that indicate distress, have a veterinarian rule out medical causes.”

In case of injury, Summer Whinnys Silver remain an optimum choice: Their antimicrobial silver yarn supports a very clean, dry, 'breathing' environment and their unique design protects parts of the leg and hoof most vulnerable to infection and typically unprotected by other fly protection products.

“One of the largest Equine Pastern Dermatitis (EPD) issues we deal with is mud fever or scratches on the rear 'dish' of the pastern. On our Summer Whinnys, the 'foot' of the sock is designed to lay over and protect this otherwise hard-to-protect area of the lower leg. The uniquely-tailored foot design is why Summer Whinnys Silver are effective--from the knees down to the bottom of the foot--when it comes to protection and prevention.”

Petterson concluded, “Summer Whinnys Silver can help owners resolve EPD issues and (so far), we’ve not heard of these conditions returning as long as horses continue wearing the socks, which makes them a real value-added tool in fly protection and wound/sore protection.”

And helps frustrated horses kick the habit.